Images11(CalAware Weekly comprises this plus the two previous posts)

Open Government

Primary Candidates’ Views on Sunshine Issues     Sunshine Week operatives say they twice asked the presidential primary candidates to respond to a detailed questionnaire examining their open government and First Amendment positions, if any.  The first query went out last fall to the full field, and the second after Super Tuesday last month.  Only three responded at all, and of them only New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson did so completely.  Consequently, say the operatives, "we have collected articles, speech and debate transcripts and other records that give some insight into the presidential candidates’ thoughts on access to government information. Here are brief overviews of Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee, John McCain and Barack Obama based on that research.”

Free Speech

Judge Curbs Animal Rights Activists at UCLA        The Los Angeles Times reports  that a superior court judge last week to sharply limit the contact between animal rights activists and researchers at UCLA who had been targeted for their work with animals, including  a provision creating a 50-foot buffer around targeted scientists’ homes during the day and a 150-foot bubble at night.

Web Fairness Systems: Better Than Libel Law?      A legal commentator wonders whether,  “as more and more speech moves online, we may someday be able to junk pro-plaintiff libel law altogether, in favor of private reputational policing systems that provide an even playing field, as libel law does not, and a full right of reply for the person whose reputation has been sullied, as newspapers do not.”

Author: Internet Anonymity Is Overvalued     Andrew Keen, author of  The Cult of the Amateur, surveys three instances of verbal abuse aided by Internet anonymity and concludes that “the U.S. Supreme Court soon might need to rethink the civic value of anonymous speech in the digital age. Today, when cowardly anonymity is souring Internet discourse, it really is hard to understand how anonymous speech is vital to a free society.”

Open Meetings

Council Sued after an Unpopular Naming       The San Jose Mercury News reports that a local Vietnamese-American group has filed a lawsuit accusing the San Jose City Council of repeatedly flouting the state’s open-meeting law in agreeing to name a business district “Saigon” rather than “Little Saigon.”

Briefing of Council Majority Questioned     The Mercury News also reports that San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed’s top budget aide met privately with a majority of council members to discuss the city’s chronic budget deficits in what critics say breached the spirit, if not the letter, of state open-meeting law.

Free Press

Judge Withdraws Wikileaks Prior Restraint     Wired News reports that a federal judge on Friday allowed whistle-blower site Wikileaks to resume operation in the United States, a week after ordering its hosting company and domain registrar to shut down and lock the renegade’s site from the internet, thanks to a large and energetic media reaction. A constitutional law expert explains that reaction here. The judge also issued a hearing schedule: the motions are due March 14, oppositions to those motions are due March 28, reply briefs are due on April 4 and the next hearing is set on May 16.

Public Information

District Sitting Tight on Coach Investigation    The Redding Record Searchlight reports that the Red Bluff Joint Union High School District has rejected the paper’s second California Public Records Act request for a copy of a 90-page report the district compiled on the conduct of two football co-head coaches who were removed from those assignments in December after parental complaints.

Court: All County Employee Pay Is Public       The Marin Independent Journal reports that a state appeals court, conforming with a 2007 decision of the state supreme court, has ruled that all Marin County payroll must be available to the public, ending a two-year legal fight between the newspaper and a county employees union.

Some Beef Recall Retailers Listed       Consumers Union reports that due to a California law enacted last year, consumers here now have access to a partial list of the names of the retailers that received shipments from the largest beef recall in history—143 million pounds from Westland-Hallmark Meat Co. in Chino.

Public Records Disclosed Reveal . . .

  • a 54-year-old letter in which PG&E agreed that the City of Stockton was free “to go into the public utility business or to purchase the public utility facilities of the company within the city at a reasonable price at any time the city shall see fit”—which the city is now planning to do.
  • that 20 employees of the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center’s psychiatric unit were injured by assaults, including a nurse who was knocked unconscious by a patient.
  • hundreds of Sacramento city documents a newspaper used to show where and when Mayor Heather Fargo has gone on official travel, what those trips cost and what they have contributed to the city.